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I'm attempting to brine multiple, however I am confused as to whether my brine will be sufficient. When I usually brine a single chicken I measure the weight of the water that I am going to use and then add salt which is equivalent to 5 percent of of that water's weight.

This time however I need to brine 4 chickens, and I've bought a 10 litre food grade container for this purpose. I'm wondering if I fill this entire container up with water that must mean i'll have to use 500 grams of salt to get a 5% brine solution, that's a lot of salt. What if I used 5 litres of water instead, and 250 grams of salt, this is still a 5% brine solution, will it yield the same results? How long should I brine for optimal results. When I brine a single chicken I usually brine for 5 hours as i've read that any longer and the chicken will become very salty? (Is this true?) And should the weight of the chickens factor into anything?

I'm cooking for a lot of people and I havent brined at this scale before so any help would be appreciated.

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  • If you filled the whole thing w/ water and sufficient salt to make 5% ... you'd not have space left for the chickens. Start w/ 5L water / 250g. salt, add the chickens, and then see if there's still space left in the vessel (and if the chickens are all submerged)
    – Joe
    Sep 6 '14 at 16:38
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If you stay with the same ratio of salt (and any other ingredients) to water that you normally use, you should achieve the same results. As you normally use a 5% solution it shouldn't matter how many chickens or how much water if you stay with the 5% solution.

The only thing that the weight of the chickens will factor into is the amount of brining time needed. A larger bird will take more time than a small one.

Re time, a good rule of thumb for whole chickens is 2 hours per pound, using a 4% solution. You may want to slightly reduce the time per pound using a 5% solution. So, your 5 hours sounds about right. I wouldn't go over that as I would be concerned that it may make the meat mushy. (Haven't ever done that but I've heard that it can happen if over brined.)

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    Just to be clear: Two five birds will take the same length of time as one five pound bird. One ten pound bird will take longer.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 6 '14 at 16:18
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You got your method a bit convoluted. You don't weigh the water, you weigh the salt. Different brands of salt vary greatly in volume. 5 percent also sounds low to me. I would never go below 6 percent and then only for veggies. A meat brine should be better served at 8 percent salt per liter of water. That means 80 grams of salt per liter of water. Use fine salt not coarse salt it dissolves much easier and try to use salt without iodine or anti-caking agent.

Only a small percentage of the salt in the brine ends up in the meat. The purpose of the brine is not to season the meat. It was done originally as a preservation technique but nowadays brining of poultry is to insure a juicy white meat. The white meat of a turkey is easy to overcook because there is so much of it.

The brine creates an environment where the saline solution draws moisture out of the protein strands this moisture is then replaces by the moisture in the water. It is the process of osmosis. This in turn breaks down the walls of the protein strands and helps them retain moisture during the cooking process.

You can off course over-brine meats. I would say for a regular 2 - 4 kg chicken 8 - 12 hours in the brine is more than adequate. I have brine big 8 - 12 kg turkeys before for 3 days and I cannot say that even that amount of time ruined it.

It is not so much the weight of the meat but the amount of space the saltwater has to travel trough. A 4kg whole chicken will always take 2 - 3 times to brine than 4kg of chicken pieces. A whole turkey in turn also take 2 - 3 times longer than a whole chicken.

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